And They Were There: ACRL 2015 – Great coffee and great sessions in Portland

KellamBy Lynda M. Kellam

I had the chance to attend the Association of College & Research Libraries Biennial Conference in Portland, Oregon this year. The conference had a large number of sessions on a variety of topics. This year I was most interested in the data-related sessions, and below are two highlights.

Amanda Whitmire, Heather Coates, and Jenny Muilenburg held an excellent session on creating data management curricula at their universities. All three have developed courses or workshops on the best practices of research data management (RDM). Amanda Whitmire from Oregon State University described her two-credit, 10-week course for graduate students that incorporates Data Information Literacy (DIL) pedagogy . Her course was open to students from all disciplines, and provided graduate students a forum to apply data management best practices to their discipline-specific projects. She used a variety of resources to build the class, including the DataOne Modules  and the New England Collaborative Data Management Curriculum (NECDMC) lesson plans. You can view her class guide for more information.

Jenny Muilenburg from the University of Washington talked about her pilot NECDMC-sponsored workshop on the fundamentals of research data management. She developed a seven-week drop-in workshop series that met for one hour each week. As with Whitmire’s course, the information was not discipline specific, so that anyone could drop in, and a few librarians attended to learn more about RDM. You can find her course schedule, lesson plans, and exercises on this guide.

Finally, Heather Coates from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis described her workshop series for health sciences graduate students. She primarily discussed an activity she created in which participants mapped data outcomes to connect their research questions with desired products. You can find Coates’ mapping worksheet and much more here.

acrl 2015

In “Promoting Data Literacy at the Grassroots: Teaching & Learning with Data in the Undergraduate Classroom,” Adam Beauchamp from Tulane University and Christine Murray from Bates College discussed the intersection of data reference and data management. The challenge is that data reference librarians tend to assume that students know what to do once they have data, while data management best practices presumes that students have had experience with primary research data collection. In other words, it can be difficult to help a student find data if they are not certain how their question would be measured. Their session suggested three possible approaches that could help: 1) discovering data through literature; 2) teaching the evaluation of data sets; and 3) teaching students how to operationalize their research questions. During their session, they discussed how they implemented these plans in their classes. You can see their abstract and PowerPoint on the ACRL website.

If you missed ACRL, the proceedings are available as well as many of the posters and PowerPoints for the panels.

Lynda M. Kellam is the Data Services & Government Information Librarian at the Jackson Library, University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Lynda is also an Adjunct Lecturer in the Political Science Department and contributor to Against the Grain.

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